via 160 Vapostori held at Namibia airport – New Zimbabwe 29/09/2015
SOME 160 Vapostori were, this week, detained at Namibia’s main airport in the capital Windhoek for arriving in the country illegally and now await deportation.
Earlier this year members of the sect were also rounded up and deported for being a nuisance in the country.
On Monday, immigration officials said the church members were barred from entering the country because they did not have the required travel documents.
The group, among them 12 children, are from the Zimbabwe-based Johanne Masowe Echishanu Apostles Church.
Local media reported that they had travelled to Namibia for a religious conference.
Asked to explain the detention, home affairs permanent secretary Patrick Nandago yesterday said: “Non-compliance with the law.”
Nandago said the group comprises mainly Zimbabwean nationals and others from Botswana and South Africa.
“You can only travel without a visa if you are a tourist and in this case they did not have the applicable permit,” he said.
“Since it is not the case, they were supposed to apply for the relevant permits. The next step is for them to go back to their countries.
“They are actually supposed to leave with the next available flight.”
Police spokesman, Chief Inspector Kauna Shikwambi, said the treavelling party applied for visas but were turned down.
“Despite not getting visas, they still had the audacity to come here,” she said.
According to Shikwambi, the group applied to stay in Namibia from September 27 to October 14, 2015.
They jetted into the country aboard Air Namibia.
Airlines are supposed to check whether travellers have the required travel documents before allowing them to board a flight.
Air Namibia however, denied any wrongdoing.
“We are aware of the passengers, however it is an immigration issue,” said airline’s spokesman Paulus Nakawa.
In July this year, 40 Vapostori, including nineteen babies and children were arrested alongside their mothers and deported to Zimbabwe.
The church members were rounded up at various shrines by police and immigration officers who said it was illegal to conduct services in the bush adding many did not even have passports.
Most apostolic religious sects conduct their services outdoors in the bush, a phenomenon that was not understood by Namibian authorities, local media reported at the time.